Old Waffle Iron Gets New Life as PCB Press

Old Waffle Iron Gets New Life as PCB Press

Who knew an old breakfast machine could be converted into a tool for creating printed circuit boards? We’ve covered many different ways of creating PCBs, including the toner transfer method. With this method, you use a laser printer to print your circuit pattern onto glossy paper or special toner transfer paper. The toner is then transferred to a copper-clad board. When you submerge the board into acid, the toner protects those parts of the board from being etched away entirely, leaving you with conductive traces on the board. One of the challenges of this process is transferring the toner to the copper-clad board. Many people use an iron or a laminating machine, but amateur radio operator Mark Schoonover (KA6WKE) modded an old Black & Decker waffle iron with some sheet aluminum to create a PCB press to transfer the toner to the copper-clad board.

His site walks you through all of his experimentation with paper, printer and heat settings, and pressure on the board while it was in the press. He found that using HP brochure paper and setting his printer to an anti-curl setting did the trick. “According to the printer manual, it slightly lowers the fuser temperature so the paper won’t curl as it’s passed through,” Mark explained.


“I think the PCB Press is an excellent approach to making PCBs using the toner transfer method,” he said. “It’s capable of very consistent temperature, especially having the additional aluminum sheets firmly attached. It has very consistent pressure on the toner transfer paper and since the pressure is even across the entire surface of the board, the toner is pancake flat over the entire surface.” [via Hack A Day]

4 thoughts on “Old Waffle Iron Gets New Life as PCB Press

  1. MikeH says:

    I’ll be darned if I don’t have that exact same model of waffle maker at home. Might be time to invest in a new one for cooking, because I think I’ll be converting the B&D one to PCB duties the next time I have the need. I like the idea of even pressure and even heat from both sides – the iron-on method has always been a little hit-and-miss. This method also makes me think that doing two-sided boards would be much more feasible, since you could transfer both toner images at the same time. A single image, carefully folded to account for the thickness of the PCB, and keyed to a few via-holes, could be wrapped around the board and transferred all in one go…

  2. Henry says:

    I’ve owned a black & decker model for years and can’t say enough about how great it is. Check out some black & decker waffle maker reviews and you’ll see what I mean.

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

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